Running the Wild West Coast

In Features, Aussie Angles, DAF, October 20218 MinutesBy Howard ShanksNovember 18, 2021

Tasmanianbased Gaspac Motors’ owner Andrew Arnold needs flexibility, economy, and reliability from the gear running his BP fuel contract.

It’s a typical autumn afternoon on the northwest coast of Tasmania, and Andrew Arnold has driven his new DAF CF 480 FTT 6×4 out of the BP terminal in Burnie. He is pulling a fully loaded tanker with a gross combination mass (GCM) of 50 tonnes. Moments later, he is well into the steep climb south, out of Burnie up the dedicated truck bypass road on his way to Queenstown, 152km to the south. The wellmatched MX-13 engine and ZF TraXon 12-speed AMT transmission mean the new truck marches briskly up the steep grade towards route B18, the Ridgley Highway.

Andrew took over Gaspac Motors from his father almost two decades ago and, following in the footsteps of his truck-driving dad, he handles the dual roles of both owner and driver. Based in Smithton on the far northwest coast of Tasmania, the company primarily delivers fuel throughout the 68,400-square-kilometre island state.

At one time, most of their fuel deliveries went to local farmers in the region. However, more recently, demand for the company’s reliable service has increased and now includes deliveries to service stations along with farm supplies.

The descent into Queenstown.

A decade or so back, when Andrew specified his first DAF truck, it was a decision he recalls deliberating on for a considerable time. He was insistent that any future vehicle acquisitions would need to transport his business to the next level.

“I certainly had several boxes that I wanted ticking before making my final decision,” he says. “I was keen to support an Australian manufacturer with strong dealership support in Tasmania.” The DAF ticked both boxes, with PACCAR’s assembly plant in Baywater and dealer CJD Equipment, which opened a full workshop in Burnie about a year ago.

Andrew was also aware of the environment his trucks operated in, delivering in the wee small hours close to residential areas. “We are extremely mindful of the environment we work in,” he says. “Creating and maintaining good public perception is a high priority not just for our business and our customers, but for the transport industry in general.

“We finally settled on a DAF CF85 460, with the 12-speed transmission.”

The decision was the right one. The truck delivered good performance and exceptional fuel economy, averaging 2.4kpl on stop-start farm work and 2.5-2.6kpl on highway work.

Burnie to Queenstown on Tasmania’s west coast is 152km of demanding terrain.

“The results were better than we expected, especially when you take into consideration the PTO pumping time for farm deliveries.

“The manoeuvrability of our original CF85 around the farm was excellent. It had great vision – an asset for farm work where you need to have your wits about you and be on the lookout for gate posts or tractor implements left in laneways.

“The visibility out of the new CF 480 is equally good, if not better.”

Suffice to say, it was the economy, reliability, and performance of the old CF85 that paved the way for this new Euro-6 DAF CF 480, which joins two other DAF CF85s in the Gaspac Motors fleet.

At the time of writing, the new truck was five months and 100,000 trouble-free kilometres into its life. As we roll south towards Queenstown, the west Tasmanian topography would probably look more familiar to Kiwis than to most Australians, with lots of greenery, and a rolling, curvy road-scape with plenty of decent ups and downs along the route.

The CF 480 delivers maximum power of 358kW (480hp) at 1600rpm, with a maximum torque output of 2350Nm (1733lb/ft) available from as low as 900rpm through to 1410rpm. Matched to the slick-shifting ZF TraXon 12TX2610 12-speed AMT, it’s a combination that punches above its weight as 7.2kW/ tonne (9.6hp) might indicate.

Andrew Arnold still drives every day and trains new drivers himself. He rates the DAF product one of the best fits for his business model.

Andrew adds that on the downhill section, the engine braking is very effective. The DAF descends mountain ranges with minimal use of the service brakes, with Andrew alternating between the three settings – 40, 70, and 100 percent at 1900rpm – on the wand.

If safety is now a zerocompromise subject in the industry generally, it’s doubly so in the fuel industry. Andrew undertakes the training of any new drivers coming on board at Gaspac himself. The safety suite offered in the new Euro- 6 DAF range enhances truck, load, and driver welfare, further keeping the company up with customer expectations of the day.

Transport is about making deliveries, and Gaspac Motors’ drivers can have 30 to 40 per day. The CF cab’s two-step entry eases the job.

The new truck also appears to be following in the footsteps of the old in terms of consumption, averaging 2.8kpl for the trip down to Queenstown, over some interesting terrain. “On the highway to Hobart, we’re consistently nudging 3km per litre.”

Around another bend, and the prominent green sign signalling a right turn toward Strahan looms in the windscreen. A little further on, the lush green forest gives way to a surreal conglomerate rocky moonscape that is now the famous welcome marker to Queenstown. Andrew says that decades of intense copper mining caused the anomaly in the landscape. However, Mother Nature is clawing back – but more on that another day, because Andrew had arrived at his delivery point.

“When it comes to the business, I leave my emotions out of the decision process and focus on the productivity gains,” Andrew says. “The DAF CF 480 turned out to be the ideal model for our application and keeps us ahead of the game.”